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News / June 25, 2020

Future of dentistry at stake in Northern Ireland, says BDA

by Gaby Bissett

The British Dental Association (BDA) have said dental services 'need to be prioritised' before they become unsustainableThe British Dental Association (BDA) have said dental services ‘need to be prioritised’ before they become unsustainable.

Speaking at the Assembly Committee for Health, the association argued that practices are significantly hindered by PPE costs. Social distancing requirements and cross infection guidelines also have significant implications.

The evidence was given ahead of the practice reopening date – Monday 29 June – where dental teams will be able to resume face-to-face care.

Aerosol-generating procedures (AGPs), using high-speed instruments, will not restart until Monday 20 July.

Devastating impact

Dental leaders in Northern Ireland suggest lower patient numbers and higher costs will amount to devastating losses.

They have warned that the system on which health service dentistry is carried out will struggle to cope with the likely fall in patient numbers.

As a result, the BDA is urging the government to step in with long-term support measures. Alternatively, they also suggest a change to the current model.

Richard Graham is the chair of the BDA’s Northern Ireland dental practice committee.

Hesaid: ‘The future of dental services in Northern Ireland now hangs in the balance.

‘The very system on which health service dentistry operates now risks decimating the sector. Without adequate ongoing support from government it is frankly impossible to sustain a model based on activity when activity has fallen through the floor.’

Urgent clarity

He added: ‘Sadly the message so far from government is on ‘budget constraints’. At a time of great uncertainty and anxiety, we call on the department to be doing whatever it takes to get the service through this crisis intact.

‘In addition, clarity on last week’s commitment to provide PPE support is needed urgently.

‘Practices our communities depend on now face an avoidable catastrophe. Dental services need to be prioritised in the Rebuilding of HSC Services.’

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